August 26, 2014

Which US state ranks top for gender equality?

A new report released in line with Women’s Equality Day today has ranked all 50 US states for gender equality.

Personal finance website WalletHub compiled data from agencies such as the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to assess key disparities between genders including life expectancy, political representation, educational attainment, and wages.

Overall, Hawaii was ranked as the most gender-equal US state, followed by New York, Maryland and Maine.

Wyoming was left trailing at the bottom, reporting the most significant gender disparities, followed by Utah, Idaho and Texas.

Other states ranked highly on particular equality metrics. Arizona and California were found to have the smallest pay gaps between men and women, with Louisiana and Wyoming reporting the largest.

State legislatures of Colorado and Vermont contain the largest proportion of female representatives at 40%, whereas those of South Carolina and Louisiana contain just shy of 12%.

While the top ranked states demonstrate encouraging moves towards equality, the fact that gender disparities still exist despite years of policy efforts is cause for concern.

Solomon W. Polachek writes in more detail about the gender wage gap. He suggests that equal pay policies based on wage outcomes have little effect on the wage gap, whereas policies aimed at increasing women's lifetime work lead to more positive outcomes.

There are numerous reasons to place gender equity at the top of economic agendas. The World Economic Forum’s executive chair Klaus Schwab commented: “Countries and companies can be competitive only if they develop, attract, and retain the best talent, both male and female.”

He continued: “While governments have an important role to play in creating the right policy framework for improving women’s access and opportunities, it is also the imperative of companies to create workplaces where the best talent can flourish.”

Our author Nina Smith builds upon this point in her article on gender balances on boards of directors. She finds that measures to boost women's skills across company hierarchies can improve gender diversity on executive boards, noting that a more balanced mix of men and women in senior level teams can aid decision making processes.

Read more here.

Related articles:
Equal pay legislation and the gender wage gap, by Solomon W. Polachek
Gender quotas on boards of directors, by Nina Smith
Gender diversity in teams, by Ghazala Azmat